Week in Review: Transitional justice challenges in Burundi, Myanmar and Mali
    François Sergent

    The transitional justice week was marked by the publication of a new report on Burundi by the UN Human Rights Council. This report is even more damning than the previous one with regard to this small country in the Great Lakes region facing a bloody government clampdown since the 2015 re-election of President Pierre Nkurunziza which is widely seen as unconstitutional.   In an exclusive interview with JusticeInfo, UN rapporteur Fatsah Ouguergouz explains: “Since our last statement in June, we have seen the continuation of violations which are taking place in a more secretive way than in...

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    International Justice Day: From dreams to challenges
    Pierre Hazan, JusticeInfo editorial advisor and associate professor at Neuchâtel University

    In the 19th century international justice, which is being celebrated this July 17 (The Statute of the International Criminal Court was adopted in Rome on July 17, 1998), was a utopian dream. But at the end of the 20th century it became a reality, first with the conflicts in former Yugoslavia and genocide in Rwanda, then with the launch in 2002 of the International Criminal Court. But this passage from dream to reality has been a shock, which we are only just starting to evaluate.   Societies’ thirst for justice cannot be extinguished. In Syria, the Democratic Republic of Congo and dozens of...

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    New ICTJ book promotes tailored approach to transitional justice
    François Sergent,

    “Justice Mosaics” is the almost poetic title of a welcome new book on transitional justice by the International Center for Transitional Justice (ICTJ), an American NGO that is specialist in the field. This 400-page book, which can be downloaded for free, is subtitled “How context shapes transitional justice in fractured societies”. The idea behind the work, co-edited by ICTJ Research Director Roger Duthie and Vice-President Paul Seils, is to show how transitional justice needs to adapt to local contexts. “We often say that transitional justice is an art, not a science,” say the editors....

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    Safe Havens, Innovations in the protection of cultural property
    Polina Levina Mahnad

    A recent constellation of events appear to herald a shift in how the international community responds to threats to cultural property in armed conflict. At a time when many are calling international law into question and multilateral responses to emerging threats are losing steam, the last year has seen bold moves – from court cases, State initiatives, and action by the UN Security Council – that have recognized the importance of cultural property protection for peace and security, as well as the ability of third-party states to take on responsibility for its protection. Among these are...

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    Memorialization and politics in Germany, a view from Nepal
    Aditya Adhikari

    “Today, the Shoah is a universal reference,” wrote the historian Tony Judt in 2008. Everywhere in the world the Holocaust has come to stand as the epitome of political evil. And in addition, the German people’s effort to atone for and repudiate their past is often held up as exemplary. The trials of war criminals in post-war Germany, the reparations provided to victims and the memorials erected in their name have become lodestars for what is called ‘transitional justice’ – the contemporary codification of norms and policies aimed at ensuring peace and justice in the aftermath of...

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    International Criminal Justice Should Tackle Environmental Destruction
    International Green parties *

    The intensive exploitation of natural resources triggers serious environmental destruction locally that has serious consequences on the global ecosytem. Based on this scientific fact, the Global Greens ask to reorganize international environmental law on the model of international criminal law. In July 2010 the International Criminal Court (ICC) launched a warrant of arrest against Omar Al Bashir, President of Sudan, for three counts of genocide including ''deliberately inflicting conditions of life calculated to bring about physical destruction'', among which the contamination of...

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    Hannah Arendt or the power of ordinary people facing totalitarianism
    Kathleen B. Jones, San Diego State University

      In the weeks since the election of President Donald J. Trump, sales of George Orwell’s “1984” have skyrocketed. But so have those of a lesser-known title, “The Origins of Totalitarianism,” by a German Jewish political theorist Hannah Arendt. “The Origins of Totalitarianism” discusses the rise of the totalitarian movements of Nazism and Stalinism to power in the 20th century. Arendt explained that such movements depended on the unconditional loyalty of the masses of “slumbering majorities,” who felt dissatisfied and abandoned by a system they perceived to be “fraudulent” and...

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    ICC Prosecutor at a turning point
    Stéphanie Maupas, correspondent in The Hague

    International Criminal Court (ICC) Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda has been in her post since June 16, 2012, and is now half way through her mandate. In four and a half years she has opened two new cases -- Mali and Georgia -- and issued an arrest warrant against Malian Jihadist Ahmed Al Mahdi for war crimes. Too little action to date, say observers, but she has numerous cases in the pipeline, notably against the Russians, British, Americans and Israelis. People wait impatiently for her expected opening of an Afghanistan case involving torture by US forces. They see it as a test and possibly a...

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    After 15 years, ICC States still debating crime of aggression
    Stéphanie Maupas, correspondent in The Hague

    In 2017, member States of the International Criminal Court (ICC) are supposed to promulgate the Kampala amendments to the Court’s Statute, giving the ICC a green light to prosecute those most responsible for crimes of “aggression”.  But what seemed to be a formality now looks again like a subject of debate.  France and the UK in particular are playing for time. The issue will be raised at the ICC Assembly of States Parties in December this year, but jurists fear that some states will try to postpone activation of the crime indefinitely.  This is a crime concerning leaders, their ministers...

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    Week in Review:Judicial complaint in Spain against Syrian regime sets precedent
    Ephrem Rugiririza, JusticeInfo.Net

    Is a first trial in Europe against the regime of Syrian President Bashar Al Assad likely? It looks more so after Spanish state prosecutor Javier Zaragoza officially registered a complaint filed by a woman of dual Syrian and Spanish nationality. She accuses members of the Syrian security services of having tortured her brother to death near Damascus. “This is the first time that allegations have been made to a court of `acts of State terrorism` by the current Syrian administration,” writes François Musseau, JusticeInfo’s correspondent in Madrid. Leading prosecution evidence in this...

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    New challenges for transitional justice on the path to peace
    Pierre Hazan

    “The times are they are a-changing”, Bob Dylan used to sing. The winner of the 2016 Nobel prize for literature was surely not thinking about transitional justice when he wrote those lines back in the 1960s. Yet times are also changing for transitional justice, which has become a key component of peace accords. But with new objectives come new challenges, and they are considerable. Transitional justice was developed during the late 1980sand the following decade in the wave of optimism that followed the end of the Cold War. Defence budgets were falling, political and economic liberalism...

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    Week in Review: Does extrajudicial killing of “terrorists” threaten rule of law?
    François Sergent,

    The timing may be just a coincidence. But the coincidence this week of a former Guatemalan minister’s trial in Spain for summary executions of eight gang leaders and questions on the legality of French and American targeted killings of alleged Islamic State terrorists raises a real issue. How can you defend people who are indefensible in the name of a justice system that they neither respect nor practise? The question is as old as democracy itself, and has always been on the minds of the lawyers who defend “public enemies”. The trial in Spain of Carlos Roberto Vielmann, 60, a former...

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    Week in Review: New technology and old hopes for transitional justice
    François Sergent,

    Can a smartphone and an App hold war criminals accountable? Eyewitness, an App developed by the International Bar Association (IBA), is trying to help combat impunity with this new technological tool, said to be reliable, free and accurate. The aim is to document suspected war crimes witnessed by victims or others, through photos and videos. Wendy Bett, director of eyeWitness, explained in an interview with JusticeInfo the advantages of this project.  “Images taken with the eyeWitness app include a verifiable GPS time, date and location,” she says. “All come from a registered instance of...

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    eyeWitness: When a smartphone could hold war criminals accountable
    Vony Rambolamanana, correspondent in Geneva

    EyeWitness won the Geneva Centre for Security Policy (GCSP) Prize for Innovation in Global Security last month in Geneva. eyeWitness provides human rights defenders, journalists, and ordinary citizens with a mobile app to capture verifiable video and photos of  international atrocity crimes to be used as evidence in investigations or trials. The use of footage as evidence of crimes against humanity or war crimes is not unknown to international criminal courts. For instance, the NGO Human Rights Watch compiled footage of the stadium massacre in Guinea in order to support the ongoing...

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    ASP 15: Five Recommendations to Strengthen the International Criminal Court

    (The Hague) On the occasion of the 15th session of the Assembly of States Parties (ASP) to the ICC Statute, which takes place in the Hague from 16 to 24 November 2016, FIDH presents its position paper with five recommendations to the States Parties. This session will take place after South Africa, Burundi and Gambia have taken steps to withdraw from the ICC Statute. These withdrawals, as well as other concerns expressed by some African States, will be without doubt intensively discussed at this session. These actions seek to damage the highest level of accountability for the most grave crimes of concern to the international community. At the same time, many African States Parties...

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    ICC: Defend Core Principles, says HRW

    Member countries of the International Criminal Court (ICC) should protect the court’s ability to fully and fairly provide justice for the worst international crimes, Human Rights Watch said today. Recent withdrawals from the court by three African countries raise concerns that ICC members will offer concessions on the court’s core principles at their annual meeting from November 16 to 24, 2016, in a misguided effort to deter other countries from leaving the court. In October and November, the governments of Burundi, Gambia, and South Africa withdrew from the ICC treaty, the Rome Statute....

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